You’ll notice things at FemPop have been a little slow of late. With Rebecca Jane Stokes off being fantastic (and getting paid) over at XOJane and Hairpin and the like and the shows we regularly recap here on a bit of a hiatus I took a step back from things. But over the last month I’ve been working myself up to come back here to FemPop.
That’s meant a call for new contributors. (Those of you who have applied will hear back very shortly and those of you who haven’t applied are encouraged to do so ASAP.) But the biggest hurtle I’ve faced is purely an internal one.
When you’re in the “social justice” game it can be exhausting. Covering every failure from Hollywood–every slight to the less privileged–wears on you. Its easy to emotionally flame out in a glory of “fuck you movies and television and comics and games” and find yourself so miserable with the state of pop culture that you disappear into a hole of the previously established “good” stuff.
But after a lot of revelry in the good stuff and avoidance of the bad I’ve found myself ready to wade back into the cesspool of sexism, racism, and good ol’ boy celebrations that is the culture I exist in.
But it is more than being reinvigorated.
Because in the time since I last really passionately embraced FemPop I’ve seen a lot of people say “why” whenever someone gets up in arms over a television show or a movie or a video game. What’s the point of talking about these shows? Or getting mad about all the films that exist to wallow in manpain?
Why does Orange is the New Black matter? Or The Fosters or Under the Dome or Kick Ass 2? What makes Saints Row 4 or Finatticz’s “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” critical to the discussion?
Because media matters.
Because as a very white kid growing up in a very white household Roc and True Colors and The Cosby Show reminded me that the world didn’t all look like curdled milk.
Because as a kid of divorce in a blended family with two siblings and three step siblings Step By Step showed my family on the screen every Friday night.
Because as a sheltered young woman taught that sexuality was a binary Gabrielle and Willow showed me it was a spectrum and you could move around on it as you damn well pleased.
Because as a woman who always hated dresses Skin‘s Frankie showed me it was okay to just dress just like me.
Because my uncle didn’t know many gay people but he saw Callie and Arizona get married and now he knows there isn’t always a husband or a wife in a marriage.
Because my twelve year old neighbor didn’t grasp the concept of state sanctioned genocide until he saw the Ishbalans systematically slaughtered in Fullmetal Alchemist.
Because Djimon Hounsou’s son wanted to bleach his skin so he could look like a superhero because all superheroes seem to be white.
Because Whoopi Golderberg went into film and Mae Jemison became an astronaut after growing up seeing Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek.
Because kid’s television boosts the self-esteem of little white boys but makes little white girls and every child of color feel worse about themselves.
Media has the ability to build us up. It has the ability to break us down. It comforts us every evening. Prepares us for every morning. It is the background radiation of our lives. It matters. Critiquing it matters. Praising what it does right and condemning what it does wrong matters.
And I’m really excited to continue to explore the relationship between us and our media.
The original Doctor Who was a campy fantasy show. One I’d watch with family on Saturday night, safely ensconced in a giant blanket, and clutching a tup of homemade popcorn in my little hands. The show had charm and Daleks filled me with terror, but as I grew older and the reruns tapered off I didn’t really give the show much thought.
Then Russell T Davies had an indie actor darling with a Northern accent grasp the hand of a fading teen pop star done up like a chav and urgently say the one word that would become synonymous with the present incarnation of the show.
It was a bold proclamation of what this modern interpretation of a British institution would be. This was escapism raised to an art form. Rose, Martha and Donna were more than assistants. They were each of us, plucked from obscurity and the boredom of our lives and cast in adventures spanning space and time. They had moms who worried, granddads that cheered and sisters and boyfriends who looked on with a tinge of jealousy. We were Rose and Martha and Donna. We were the girl who poverty condemned to one location her whole life, the workaholic in need of a little holiday with a cute guy, and the temp thirsting for more but lacking the esteem to be bold.
When Steven Moffat took the reigns it was easy to be excited. Davies had always fumbled the finales, and he sometimes got too dark for comfort, and he forced Donna to forget all her growth and one time the monster of the week was a chubby baby looking alien that farted a lot. Moffat had Jekyll, Coupling, and he’d written, hands down, the best episodes of Davies’ run.
But by the second episode of Moffat’s first season as showrunner it became apparent that he wasn’t Davies. The companions who’d risen to be the Doctor’s equals despite being mere humans, would not be escapist fantasy avatars. They would barely be characters.
They would be puzzles. Moffat’s Doctor, sans Davies’ influence, was a dear old uncle who was smarter than everyone else in the room. He didn’t travel to stand in awe of the wonders of the universe. He’d seen them all, and was more content to dotter around the house puzzling out young women’s existences. These companions weren’t taken on adventures, they had to urge him to go on one.
"Run clever boy."
Spike Lee’s list of essential films features exactly one woman filmmaker. So here are seven more women filmmakers and their films that are essential to understanding and enjoying film.
The game industry has a massive problem with representation. It’s come under fire in the last year because of the complete lack of diversity in plots and characters. Earlier this year gaming insiders candidly admitted that games won’t be made if they feature a female heroine and that those that are made will receive a fraction of the marketing budget received by games featuring grizzled white dudes out for revenge.
So how does one of the largest publishers in video games and the developer of one of gaming’s most popular consoles respond to the allegations of misogyny?
They have a woman get beat up on stage and then they make a rape joke.
To take the relationship from a simmering subtext to blatant main text is completely in line with the show’s mission to redefine fairytales and dole out happy endings like candy. Two ladies uniting in love for their son (and possibly each other yes please) is just a logical as hell next step.
Rhimes’ show is obsessed with these betrayals, the most fundamental of betrayals. Adultery is the most horrific of emotional crimes one can commit against another and she uses it to pry apart these characters and expose the roots of them.
Emma doesn’t know her well enough or feel secure enough in their relationship to say “you may wear hats because it helps after you got that haircut that makes your ears look crazy huge but I look pretty okay with some Aquanet and a curling iron so let’s call it a day.”
He begs Brienne to just “accept” her fate and she quickly snaps back “would you.” No, he wouldn’t because he’s a man. In Jaime’s eyes (and many men’s eyes) he’d still have some minute measure of power despite the act of rape being entirely…
After Aubrey Plaza purposely bombed a performance art moment on the MTV Awards it’s become clear she’s trying to be the next Andy Kaufman, and starting to succeed.
Somehow in Catelyn’s head her betrayal of her “motherly” duties to him as a child are what have brought down all the misery upon her head. It’s a horrific moment.
Ellie Sattler may have not been the focus of Jurassic Park, but for one confused ten year old she was a shining example of feminism being respected and also being really awesome.
A recap of the 11th episode of the 3rd season of Lost Girl, “Adventures in Fae-bysitting.” Bo and Kenzi hit the burbs, Tamsin hits the sauce and Lauren hits the bricks.
I spent waaaay too much of this review talking about Lauren.
The big reveal, besides her boyfriend’s penchant for being a nutty birther, was that her father handed his best friend over to HUAC. That that would be just as damaging to her political career as a birther or fan fiction is why we love The Good Wife.